Last week’s mining disaster in Turkey represented more than simply an industrial accident, but raised very real human rights concerns. The government’s response in the last week, however, have only heightened these concerns.
By Joe Westby, Amnesty International Corporate Campaigner and Onyekachi Okoro, Media for Justice Program, Center for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD)
“People are dying silently. The oil companies bring sickness to our communities,” a man from a polluted community in Nigeria’s Bayelsa state told us.
But when it comes to oil spills in the Niger Delta, it’s not what you’ve suffered or what you know; it’s what you can prove.
This simple fact has hampered communities from obtaining justice, even when their lives have been turned upside down by pollution. Because the oil companies have significant control over determining vital data about oil spills, the affected communities lack reliable and impartial information, meaning they can’t effectively tell their side of the story.
By James Mutti, India Country Specialist, Amnesty International USA
This week marks the 29th anniversary of the world’s deadliest industrial disaster – the 1984 gas leak at the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, India. If you’re not familiar with the disaster and Amnesty’s recent campaigning concerning Bhopal, read Amnesty USA’s recent blog posts here, here and here.
The gas leak, and the continuing contamination of local soil and water that killed 25,000 people and injured or sickened over 100,000, is indeed horrifying. Much remains to be done to ensure that those responsible for so much human suffering are held accountable and that those whose lives have been so unfairly devastated by the disaster receive justice. At the same time, the strength and determination of Bhopal’s survivors is truly inspiring and has led to a number of important victories.
In the powerful new report “Bad Information,” Amnesty International and the Center for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) reveal that Shell has manipulated investigations into its oil spills in Nigeria.
“Shell is being disingenuous about the devastation caused by its Niger Delta operations. This new evidence shows that Shell’s claims about the oil spills cannot be trusted,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.
When a government cracks down on human rights, the rule of law is degraded.
On Oct. 7, Amnesty International USA and the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis hosted a discussion with Daniel Feldman and Pavel Ivlev about the erosion of rights in Russia and the impact it has on the legal fabric of Russian society.
Both men worked with Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an Amnesty prisoner of conscience, who was once one of Russia’s most successful businessmen and CEO of Yukos Oil Company.
Full transparency is vital to establishing real solutions to oil spills and oil theft in the Niger Delta. But those that resist this most are oil companies such as Shell. If they are committed to addressing the Niger Delta’s problems of theft, sabotage and oil spills, why will they not disclose the relevant oil spill investigation data?
With that question in mind, here are 6 other questions Shell seems to be unable to answer about their role in oil pollution in Nigeria.
A legal ruling in Canada this week that featured Amnesty International Canada as an official intervenor offered a new path for victims of human rights abuses to seek redress against corporations where they are headquartered, even if the acts in question were both committed by a subsidiary of a corporation and took place in another country.
The Globe and Mail article, “After HudBay ruling, Canadian firms on notice over human rights,” points to the potential impact the ruling could have on corporate earnings and responsibilities of directors and investors.
Despite the Canadian mining company HudBay Minerals claiming no responsibility for their subsidiary, Ontario Superior Court ruled on July 22nd that claims against the company’s security personnel for gang rapes and murder of an indigenous leader critical of mining practices in Guatemala can proceed to trial.
By Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International
I have just left Katanga in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where my colleague Lisa Tassi and I were following up on Amnesty International’s work on mining and human rights in the region.
In some ways this is easy to do. Besides mining – mostly of copper and cobalt – little else happens in southern Katanga. But two very different methods are employed to extract these minerals. Industrial mining, involving large multinational companies, is managed from air-conditioned offices and carried out with heavy equipment; small-scale artisanal mining is frequently done in sweltering heat by men (and in some cases boys under the age of 18) working with basic tools.
The survivors of 1984′s Bhopal gas disaster have won a significant step toward justice.
An Indian court ruled this week that Dow Chemical must explain why its wholly owned subsidiary, Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), has repeatedly ignored court summons in the ongoing criminal case concerning the Bhopal disaster. Union Carbide is accused of “culpable homicide not amounting to murder” for over 20,000 deaths.
You know that phone you’re texting on? Do you know how its microchips are made?
Thanks to work by Amnesty International and partner organizations, companies that rely on certain minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo or neighboring countries now have to investigate and report on whether those minerals fund armed groups.
And it’s about more than just smartphones – “conflict minerals” (tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold) are used in products like your laptop and even your car. Public disclosure of companies’ sourcing practices can have a real impact on entire industries, pushing companies to take human rights into account as they do business. Can you hear me now?